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4 Headline Hacks to Create an Irresistible LinkedIn Profile

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LInkedIn

If you were to Google yourself right now, what would you find?

Your LinkedIn profile is probably one of the first search results you’d see. If the thought of new customers, business associates or recruiters finding your profile has you cringing, it’s time for a little TLC.

Here’s the good news: it’s easy to stand out from the crowd with your LinkedIn photo and headline. Think of your photo and headline as your own advertising “hook” showcasing your professionalism to any new business connections.

And your headline is the place to shine. But the vast majority of people on LinkedIn allow their headline to default to their current job title. What a snooze fest!

“Director of Program Management” or “Accountant II” won’t tell us anything about you as a person. (Click to Tweet!)

Stuck on what to write? Here are four LinkedIn headline hacks with examples to kickstart your creativity:

1. Expert status

Use this headline hack if you want to establish your expertise (even if you’re a budding expert).

Expert status headline hack formula: {Keyword/subject matter expert area} who {does what} for {client, company, audience, project}. {Proof point}.

Examples:

  • Personal Chef specializing in gluten-free diets. Winner Seattle Personal Chef of the Year 2012.
  • Social Media Expert driving successful campaigns on a shoestring budget. 800%+ ROI in the past 12 months.
  • Bestselling Author and Professional Speaker energizing audiences to overcome limiting beliefs. 90%+ sat ratings.

2. Claim your niche

Use this headline hack if you want to be found for one or two specific keywords/key phrases relevant to your industry.

Claim your niche headline hack formula: {Keyword(s)} | {your specific benefit or focus area}

Examples:

  • Six Sigma Master Black Belt | Dedicated to process excellence in auto manufacturing
  • Tax Accountant CPA | Specialist in family-owned businesses with revenues of $1-$5 million
  • Childhood Autism Psychiatrist | Specializing in diagnosing, treating and supporting families with autistic children

3. Direct to customer

Are you in business development, sales or building your own company? This may be the headline hack for you!

Direct to customer headline hack formula: {Attention-grabbing question} + {Who you are} + {who you help}. {Proof point}. OR {Attention-grabbing question} + {Free resource}.

Examples:

  • Need capital? Banker for early-stage technology growth companies. Clients include XYZ and ABC.
  • Need talent? Exec Recruiter helping mid-size manufacturing companies find top talent. Clients include LMN and OPQ companies.
  • Need to recharge your career? Join my FREE webinar on 5 things you MUST do before you search: {short bitly.com link}

4. Creative cat

Creative cat headlines don’t have a formula, but they’re included here because they’re incredibly effective when done well. If you choose this type, your headline should include who you are, who you serve, how you benefit them and your personal style.

Examples:

  • Copywriting artist transforming technical jargon from flat-line boring into a juicy novel-like page-turner
  • Former overweight food lover turned health nut coaching fellow foodies in the joys of the Paleo diet (YUM-O)

Which headline hack will you try out? Do you have another headline hack that’s working for you? Share in the comments below!

Michelle L. Evans is a career strategist who helps professionals think bigger about what’s next in their careers. Grab her free report, 5 Simple LinkedIn Hacks To Create A Profile That Rocks (even if you’re not looking for a job), for some seriously helpful advice to stand out as the valuable pro you are.

Brazen powers real-time, online events for leading organizations around the world. Our lifestyle and career blog, Brazen Life, offers fun and edgy ideas for ambitious professionals navigating the changing world of work.

  • victoria ipri

    Good ones, Michelle! But let’s not forget the importance and power of keywords within the headline, and carrying those keywords throughout the profile. LinkedIn is, after all, just a giant database running on algorithms – without selecting and implementing the right keywords, even the best headlines can’t help. I especially like your ‘direct to customer’ examples…lots of food for thought here.

    • michelle

      Hi Victoria – Yes, keywords are really important to your profile as well. A great place to figure out what keywords are hot and trending in your specific niche is http://www.linkedin.com/skills – really fantastic information located there. Thanks!

      • http://www.karenyankovich.com/ Karen Yankovich

        Love that link Michelle! Victoria, what do you recommend to help people find useful keywords?

        • jc333333

          I use wordle.net to generate a word cloud on job posting copy text. The keywords pop out in larger type. Really useful. Best of luck job seekers.

  • http://www.karenyankovich.com/ Karen Yankovich

    Great info! My blog for NEXT week ties right into this, I think I’ll add this as a link to the post if that’s OK. My first suggestion to everyone who tells me that LinkedIn isn’t for them is to google their name and see how high it ranks, and what an opportunity to get their message out they are MISSING if their headline isn’t clear.

    • michelle

      Karen – yes, definitely link to this and build on it for your blog! Couldn’t agree more about googling your name and ensuring that what shows up represents you well. And, of course, as Victoria points out below including really relevant keywords is important as well.

  • http://thebizfarmer.com/ Angela Moore

    This is great! I see too many “snooze fests” even among my own colleague. These are fantastic tips, very easy to implement. Must go make sure mine is up to par. Thanks Michelle!

    • michelle

      Great Angela, glad this is useful to you (and maybe your colleagues too!) :)

  • Bree Brouwer

    Thanks for the ideas, Michelle. I tried using a variation of #2 and 4 here for a few months to see if I had anymore profile views on LinkedIn, but I didn’t notice a big difference. Maybe I just need to leave it up there longer?

    • michelle

      Hi Bree – I took a look at your profile + googled you + looked at your website. You have some great work out there. When I look at your headline, it doesn’t give me the same energy as your profile summary + your website. 2 quick suggestions based on reviewing your online presence:
      1. Try some different keywords — for example, when I looked up ‘Freelance Blogger’ on http://www.linkedin.com/skills, there were no results which means no one is looking for that term/it isn’t widely used. Try something like “Corporate Blogging” “Custom Content Creation” or “Engaging Content”. These words can get you started to find words that people are searching for which will give you a higher probability of getting found.

      2. Given what you do, I’d suggest trying out the creative cat hack. You have a really engaging writing style, but that doesn’t come through in your headline. Maybe try a combo of #3 and #4 if you’re not totally comfortable with going 100% creative. :)
      I’d love to hear what your results are once you’ve tested out a few things!

      • Bree Brouwer

        Well, now you’ve got me feeling all challenged. :) I’ll make the changes and see what happens!

        • michelle

          Keep me posted, I’d love to hear how changing up your keywords + headline hack works out.:)

          • Bree Brouwer

            So, Michelle, here’s what I think I’m going to use (though I’m not sure if I like the way I described the businesses I’d like to work with):
            “Geek culture maven whipping up epic blogging, content strategy, and content marketing pieces for story-filled businesses”

          • michelle

            Bree – that sounds SO MUCH more like your voice! I like it – and I really, really like your revised summary. OK, two more ‘advanced’ tips:
            1. Get more connected — you will show up more often when you have a larger network. Groups like TopLinked and groups with your ideal clients are great places to start.
            2. Instead of posting a PDF of your resume… maybe a PDF of some excerpts of your work or a link to your website?
            This is great to see your authentic voice :)

  • Raine

    Excellent information! Very useful and handy formulas. Will play around with a few of them. Thank you Michelle!

    • michelle

      Great, I’m glad you found these useful Raine. Hopefully you have some great results after you play around with the hacks a bit.

  • http://HeleneScott.com/ Helene Scott

    hmmm, I’ve got myself some word-smithing to do on my headline. Thanks for these tips. I’m also looking forward to your free report. My LinkedIn profile has been sorely neglected.

    • michelle

      Helene, enjoy! Hopefully you have some great results after giving your LI profile a little extra love!

  • Joe Scherrer

    Enjoyed the post. I’d add the additional tips:

    - To rank high on Linkedin searches, ensure your headline contains the keywords you want to show up when people search for you. This goes for your profile as well.

    - Use all 120 characters available to you
    - Use special characters to make your headline “pop” such as stars, diamonds, and vertical bars
    - Tell people what value you add in plain English. Don’t put your job title in your headline.

    • michelle

      Joe, agree, agree, agree! Especially on your job title. No one knows what the heck an Accountant II is — humanize yourself and set yourself apart.

    • Jay Balingit

      What should we put in headline?

      • nynetguy

        Because your headline is one of the most, if not the most, critical part of LinkedIn’s search algorithm

    • nynetguy

      It seems as though your first and last bullets are in conflict.
      I’m an Account Manager. I want my profile to show up when people search for “Account Manager”. That’s the keyword that will most likely bring them to me and I would imagine this would hold true for just about everyone else.
      Then you say not to include job title.
      Seems a tad contradictory to me or am I missing something?

      • Joe Scherrer

        Nynetguy, the key is to use the phrase account manager throughout your profile. Using it in the headline and nowhere else won’t do much good. Linkedin’s algorithm looks for multiple citations of words and phrases when computing its version of page rank.

        The headline section offers you three lines to describe yourself. The first I recommend just your name. The second, I recommend describing yourself in “non-job title” terms, but if you really feel strongly about it, add “account manager” at the end of your tag line that describes in plain English what you do to help your clients. The third line allows you to select an industry and a location. In total, this is a lot of information.

        Finally–and this is important–where you rank on account manager searches is totally dependent on the person who is searching. It depends on their network size and who that person is connected to. If you’re not in their network, your profile won’t show up. Linkedin doesn’t work like Google.

        Bottom line: I believe a good strong profile is essential to communicate clearly who you are and what you do. But it’s not all that essential to have a “high ranking” profile. If you really want to engage prospects and gain clients, you have to use Linkedin the right way: to build relationships with people over time through strong value-added posts and discussion comments.

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    Quite attractive, those of us that are not well known and may be a few things of interest to you.

  • Mimi

    Great ideas here, Michelle. I just updated my profile headline based on this.

    • michelle

      Great Mimi, glad you found this helpful!

  • http://www.bestfoldingtreadmill.org/ Folding Treadmeal

    Really it is unexpected to hacks LInkedin Profile.

  • Renee

    Great ideas! But even more intrigued about your examples about the Gluten-free chef and the Paleo coach. Those would be my dream jobs even though I’m currently seeking a position related to sales of Educational Curriculum supporting at-risk students. Are those examples from real people? Would love to talk with them!

    • michelle

      Hi Renee – These were examples sort of based on real people, but not 100% real. Sorry – I don’t have good contacts for you! However, I did a quick Google search for Paleo diet coach and some good names came up – and there are a bunch of Paleo diet groups on LinkedIn. The groups could be a great way for you to connect with other people doing what you dream about! The Primal and Paleo Living group has almost 1000 members. Good luck!

  • http://www.alisonelissa.com/ Career Coach, alisonelissa.com

    Great information! The examples you provided were excellent- thanks!

    • michelle

      Glad you found them helpful!

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  • Rondi Frey

    Great ideas Michelle – any recommendations for how to get my profile to pop? Right now, I have “Learning and Development Guru”…. your thoughts?

  • Julia

    Lovely post! I am currently looking for a job, so would it be ok to add that to my headline? I was thinking of something along the lines of: “Biotechnologist and master graduate with experience in HEOR & Market Access, looking for new exciting opportunities”

    Thanks a lot! :)

  • Barbara Heidecke

    Thanks so much for this jump start. I thought my headline was appealing but it really wasn’t and now it’s much better: “Need a communication expert? Tech / social writer simplifying complex information for target audiences. Available now.”

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  • Lee Dunn

    Thanks! Such useful information with a formula to follow and clear-cut examples! Now I see the light after scrambling around in the dark

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  • Marc Hoag

    But be careful what you put in your headline; check out this article on whether LinkedIn can hurt you: http://blog.venturocket.com/job-seekers/can-linkedin-hurt-you-yes/

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  • Jackson

    some professional are using pictograms like cloud, flight, smileys etc…. Is that mean something .If it so How can i use those things.

  • OatMeat

    As a middle manager looking for a higher position and someone who doesn’t work with external clients, my main audience are the senior management of my company (or other companies who could recruit me). How can I position myself to that audience?

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